[JURIST] The Ugandan army on Wednesday confirmed that top Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen is now in the custody of US forces. Ongwen, the second-in-command of the rebel militia group headed by alleged Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], surrendered himself [AFP report] on Sunday in Central African Republic, after which he was put in US custody. His surrender follows [WSJ report] the issuance of an arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in 2005 for Ongwen, Kony and three other LRA commanders, as well as a 2013 announcement by the State Department of a USD $5 million reward for information leading to their capture or conviction. Although the ICC wants to try Ongwen [BBC report] for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Ugandan government has said that it would like to put him on trial in Uganda and that he would be charged upon arriving in the country. Ugandan army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said that the surrender “puts the LRA in the most vulnerable position. It is only Kony left standing.” He went on to say that that they are still establishing procedures on who should maintain custody.
Uganda has faced many difficulties in ending violence against civilians committed by the LRA. One of its success came when the Ugandan military forces, Uganda People’s Defence Force, captured [JURIST report] one of the highest leaders of the LRA, Major General Caesar Achellam, in 2012. The campaign by Invisible Children [advocacy website] has increased international efforts to capture Kony. Earlier in 2012 then-ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo expressed his support for the campaign. During the same month US lawmakers introduced [JURIST report] legislation that would protect Ugandan citizens from the LRA. It calls for the expansion of the telecommunications infrastructure in Uganda and an increase in the presence of military forces in the region. In 2011 the Ugandan Constitutional Court [official website] held [JURIST report] that former LRA rebel Thomas Kwoyelo was entitled to amnesty under the country’s Amnesty Act of 2000. He had been charged [JURIST report] with 53 counts of willful killing, hostage taking, destruction of property and causing injury that took place during Uganda’s civil war [BBC backgrounder]. He has yet to be released, however, and his case remains unresolved.